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Lawsuit of the week: Stanley Park restaurant owners sue city hall and park board over coyote attacks, lane closures

Owners of Teahouse in Stanley Park and the Prospect Point Restaurant and Café seek damages for lost revenue
BIV file photo

The companies behind the Teahouse in Stanley Park and the Prospect Point Restaurant and Café are suing the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, claiming lane closures for vehicle traffic coupled with numerous recent coyote attacks have driven customers away and decimated their businesses.

Ferguson Point Restaurant Inc. and Stanley Park Operations Ltd. filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on September 10, naming the city and park board as defendants. According to the lawsuit, the companies signed leases with the board at a time when Stanley Park Drive was two lanes and accessible by car via Beach Avenue. In addition, there was enough parking for customers who “were freely permitted to enter the park to access all paths and hiking trails, and to access the plaintiffs’ respective premises during business hours.” The leases, the companies claim, required that “Stanley Park and the areas around the Establishments are safe for the public, including safe from attacks by wild animals.” The agreements also obliged the city and park board to ensure the public has “reasonable access” to the businesses by car.

However, the park board closed one lane of Stanley Park Drive in May 2021, blocked access from Beach Aventue in April 2020 and also cut the number of parking spaces near the plaintiffs’ businesses. Collectively, the closures and parking space reductions “significantly reduced public access to and around Stanley Park … and deterred the public rom visiting Stanley Park and patronizing the Establishments.”

Meanwhile, beginning in December 2020, reports of unprovoked attacks by wild coyotes in the park began to emerge, garnering international media attention, After more than three dozen reported attacks, some involving children, the park board issued a public warning to avoid Stanley Park between dusk and dawn. But the plaintiffs claim the park board failed to protect the public from the coyote attacks and ensure Stanley Park was safe, which as “deterred the public from visiting Stanley Park and patronizing the establishments.”

“As a result of the Park Board’s public warnings, response to coyote attacks, and general failure to ensure that Stanley Park was safe for the public, Ferguson Point and Stanley Park Operations have and will continue to suffer loss and damage including lost revenue and wasted expenditures,” the claim states.

Ferguson Point Restaurant Inc. and Stanley Park Operations Ltd. seek unspecified damages for breach of lease, nuisance and breach of duty of care. The allegations have not been proven or tested in court and the City of Vancouver and Park Board had not responded to the lawsuit by press time.

Earlier this week, a BC Supreme Court judge denied a judicial review brought forward by the restaurant owners over the City of Vancouver's decision to convert Park Drive, which circumnavigates Stanley Park, into a bicycle route. 

The restaurateurs argued that designating the route a permanent bike lane to reduce carbon emissions and appease a public opinion survey was carried out using “clear logical fallacies, such as circular reasoning, false dilemmas, unfounded generalizations or an absurd premise.”